Caring for your hamster includes giving him all the toys and exercise opportunities you can.
Having a good exercise wheel for your hamster is an important way of taking care of him.
But what kind of exercise wheel should you get for your hamster ? And which is the best ?
We’ll look at safety hazards, general preferences, and budget as well.
For now, let’s start with the principles you should guide yourself by when getting your hammy an exercise wheel.
So what’s the best kind of wheel for my hamster ?
Generally you should look for a hamster wheel that’s well secured, and won’t be a health hazard for your hammy. Of course, any wheel can break, but some designs are prone to certain problems.
You should look for:
- A good running surface, so the hamster has a good grip
- Tail guards, if you’ve got a Chinese hammy or a mouse or rat (or any other long-tailed pet)
- Low noise level, since you’ll want to be able to sleep at night
- Durability, so you won’t replace it every other month
- Good size compared to the hamster, we’ll get into more detail in this article
- Safety precautions, so the hammy has less chances of hurting himself
Again, not all wheels will hit all those marks. Some might only be good for Dwarf hammies, some might be very poorly made and not good at all.
And some might be the best option out there, year in and year out.
I’ve looked around, and found the best 4 hamster exercise wheels you can order online, and I’m going to compare them in this article. They’re all good, in their own way. And you can get a good guess for which would be best for your hammy.
A comparison between 4 great hamster wheels
Before you choose any wheel at all, please take into account how large your hamster cage is. If You choose a wheel and once ti arrives you notice it won’t fit into the cage, that will be unpleasant.
Please measure your cage, in height and width beforehand, starting with the level at which the bedding stops.
So if your hamster’s cage is 30 inches high, and you’ve got 2 inches of bedding, calculate with 28 inches since that’s only as much as it will allow.
After you’re done reading this table, you’ll find each wheel discussed in much more detail in the rest of this article.
1. Eleven inch closed wheel with heavy stand
This wheel’s got pretty much all the marks.
It’s large, one of the largest available for small rodents. Eleven inches is more than enough for a Syrian hamster, and he should be able to spin it easily enough.
It’s got a heavy bottom that’s going to keep it safe in one place, and it’s fairly heavy on its own. It’s 2 pounds/ 1 kg, so your hammy won’t be able to move it either by pushing or by use.
The fact that it’s such a large size means it’s going to be a very good fit for Syrian hamsters. They can grow to be very large, up to 8 inches/ 20 cm in length, and about 2 inches/5 cm in width.
As you’ve noticed, hammies are kind of hunch-backed. This means their backs should remain this way, since that’s the way nature intended them to be.
They can run with a straight spine, but any backwards bend for them will be very painful. So if you’ve got a Syrian hammy, you’ll need to look for big wheels, even if he’s such a tiny little guy.
They grow fast, from pups to adults it takes only 3 months and they will soon need adult-sized everything in their cage.
If you’ve got a Dwarf hamster, this wheel might be a bit large for him. No worries though, the next one will suit him better.
As for safety, this wheel’s got a tail guard, and the axle is well covered so it’s not going to hurt the hamster. No feet getting stuck anywhere, and no tails or tufts of hair either.
The inside of the wheel’s a ribbed plastic, so there is good grip.
The noise level is very low, since this kind of wheel doesn’t really contain any loud parts. If you place it directly onto plain glass or plastic, then it might make a little noise as it vibrates from the running hamster.
I recommend placing it over a thin layer of bedding, preferably wood shavings.
Finally, in terms of durability this wheel looks like it could stand up to several years of heavy use, so I doubt replacing it would really be an issue.
If you’d like, you can check the listing on Amazon and read the reviews as well.
2. Nine inch silent closed wheel with heavy stand
This wheel is, again, a closed wheel. Also plastic, but smaller and a much better fit for a Dwarf hamster. It’s still a good size for Syrian hamsters if you’ve got one.
This one’s a bit lighter than the 11 inch one. It’s about 1.4 lbs/0.6 kg so it’s still going to stay put. The best part is that it comes with a cage attachment, and you can lock it into one place.
For the cage attachment, be warned that these can sometimes break the bars of the cage in time, if your cage is flimsy. I’m not saying you shouldn’t attach it, but you should not be completely surprised if one of the bars gives in after a while.
My Teddy had a plastic wheel in his old cage that we attached like this and the bars broke after a few weeks.
You might be luckier, I don’t know. Again, this has nothing to do with this particular exercise wheel, but with attaching wheels to cage bars in general.
Aside from this, the plastic inside the wheel is a good grip, and your hammy will be able to run on it well enough. It’s textured and non-slip, so again there won’t be any mishaps for your furry one.
In terms of silence, this one should be definitely silent, or at least more silent than other hamster exercise wheels. It’s supposed to operate on ball bearings, so it should be quiet enough that you can’t hear your hamster running around.
And durable it is, same as the one before. Tail and foot guard are present, so your little one will be as safe as he can be.
You can check the listing on Amazon here, and read the reviews as well.
3. Eight inch metal wire wheel, like Teddy has
My Teddy’s got one of these wheels, and it can get fairly noisy, that’s true.
This is one of the most basic wheels you can get for your hammy, and you’ll find it in many pet shops as well.
The reason people tend to be scared of them is because they can be very noisy, and if your hammy’s a small one (like a Dwarf) he might get a foot stuck in those bars.
Hence, I do no recommend this for Dwarf hamsters. My Teddy is a Syrian, and he’s had wire wheels his whole life. He’s almost two years old as I’m writing this, so he had time to complain if he wanted to.
As for noise, these metal wheels can and do get squeaky if you don’t oil them regularly. But, I oil my Teddy’s wheel once a week, every week, when I clean his cage.
This results in no noise at all for us, and the wheel itself does not make any other sound since it sits in a thin layer of bedding on that side of the cage.
You could call this personal preference, I don’t know. But I think wire cages work almost as well as the closed, heavy, plastic ones with the tail guards.
There is a bit of safety concern yes, but my Teddy’s been just fine so far.
In terms of budget, this kind of wheel is much more accessible, since it’s about 1/3 of the price of the other two plastic ones. So keep that in mind as well.
The way the wire is made makes sure the hamster can comfortably grip the bars and actually spin it around, so slipping is not a problem.
Don’t be surprised if your hamster ends up chewing the wheel almost as much as he runs on it. Hammies do that, and while it;s not the best idea for them to chew metal, they can;t really be stopped.
In terms of durability this wheel’s made of metal, so I can pretty much guarantee that it’s going to last for years. Unless you somehow bend it out of shape or something terrible happens to it. As long as you remember to oil it every now and then, you should be fine.
You can check the listing on Amazon for this wheel, and read the reviews as well.
4. Seven inch plastic flying saucer wheel
Finally, we come to the smallest wheel on this list. This size is great for Dwarf hammies, but barely enough for Syrians.
The flying saucer wheels have always been funny, at least in my opinion. Especially when they’re used by Dwarf hammies, who tend to hop onto the same wheel several at a time and just get in each other’s way.
Ah well, you can always get them a couple of these wheels, since they cost even less than the wire mesh wheels we discussed above.
There’s grip alright, the plastic is hard and ribbed, so it’s going to provide your hamster with a good running track.
I would recommend it for a Dwarf hamster as this size is more suited for them, and maybe a tiny Syrian.
Compared with other wheel designs, flying saucers don’t have the whole bent-over spine problem and I think that’s an important factor to consider.
Worst that could happen is if he suddenly stopped and flew off the wheel. Which can happen with any wheel design.
As for durability, keep in mind that this is hard plastic, but can still wear down a bit.
Given the angle of the saucer and how the whole thing is meant to operate, you might have to replace it after a few months of heavy use.
The heavier the hamster, the more the wheel will wear down since it’s going to be forced at an angle. Exactly how long that will take, I do not know.
It could be that you’ve got the world’s lightest Robo and he might not break the wheel at all.
And in terms of noise, this kind of wheel should be silent enough, though it might squeak a little after it starts to wear down. It’s a hit or miss with these, so you might get one that’s always going to be silent, or one that’s going to squeak after a few months.
You can check the listing on Amazon for this wheel, and read the reviews as well.
So what kind of wheel should you get for your hamster ?
You’ve got the table to better compare these 4 wheels, and you’ve got a detailed run-down of each wheel in particular.
I think the heavy-bottomed plastic ones are the safest, most silent, and generally long lasting ones. They’re a bit expensive, then again a running wheel will last the hamster’s whole life.
And run is pretty much all he does.
So if budget isn’t a problem, then I recommend the heavy plastic ones. The 11 inch for the Syrian owners, and the 9 inch for the Dwarf owners.
If you are, in fact, on a budget, or simply don’t want to spend as much on your hammy, then the flying saucer and wire mesh wheels are good options as well.
I’d advise Dwarf owners to stay away from the wire mesh wheels, since the feet of a Dwarf are just too tiny to safely use that.
And the flying saucer seems the best for for Dwarf hamsters, but could also be alright for Syrians in a pinch.
A word from Teddy
I hope you found a lot of info here on what kind of wheel to get your hammy. I know us hamsters look so tiny and fluffy, but we need some very large toys, and the exercise wheel is one of them.
I for one run all night, and would be horrified if I ever had no wheel to run on. So please don’t skimp out on your hammy’s wheel, he only needs one.
If you’d like to know more about us hamsters and how to care for us properly, you can check the articles below for more info.